Saturday, 19 April 2014

What the Customer Actually Wanted

Most IT people know about this set of pictures and find them amusing as they are so true to life. Maybe there is a lesson for us all here. 

Often a customer has simple requirements, but they may have trouble explaining what they need. The result can be needless over-complication, and a system which ends up as unworkable. 

It's up to us, the IT professionals, to provide a better service. 


In my role as a consultant I provide both my listening, and the application of my years of familiarity with IT. 

I start by sitting down with my client and asking them about their business. I ask questions which my experience tells me will draw out those issues of most relevance. Often this intuitive approach allows the client to express not only the more obvious requirements, but also to clarify in their own mind the importance of other previously neglected issues.

This permits them to be explored more thoroughly. 

I don’t just talk to one person. I talk to staff at all levels, and if need be I will go back and talk to people again to ensure we have got to the heart of the matter. 

The result is that my client ends up with a better understanding of their requirements so that we can then move on to prioritise them. 

Not all will be top priority, so some can be left for the moment, or until the budget is available to address them. But they will have been identified, and this ensures they will not be forgotten. 


The next step is then to address the main items, and to identify how much it will cost to deal with them. This can be an extended process which I have already discussed in my article on the Selection of Package Software

The end result is that we do not get the scenario pictured above. The customer’s requirements are at the forefront of our discussions. If need be, all their requirements can be listed and prioritised, allowing us to develop a vision of how much it is worth spending to address them. 

So from a relatively early point in the project the client knows what they will have to spend, and what benefits they should get for their money. 

Better than a cartoon!
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